Andy Millard, Democrat
Place of residence: Columbus (Polk County)
Occupation: Financial planner
Political experience: None
Endorsements: U.S. Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield; N.C. Sens. Terry Van Duyn and Jeff Jackson; N.C. Reps. John Ager and Joe Sam Queen; Hon. Erskine Bowles; Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council; WNC Central Labor Council; IUPAT; IBEW.
Amount of money raised: $360,000
Top three donors and amount contributed: Besides myself, my largest donor is my father, Robert Millard, $7,900. Three individuals have given $5,400; two live within the 10th District, one is out of state.
Why are you running?
I want to help people. My parents taught us that the value of a life is measured in how much good you do for others. It led me to become a schoolteacher, principal, financial planner, small-business owner and active leader in my community. You improve the world by focusing on others rather than yourself, by valuing all people regardless of background or circumstances and by working together to improve the world for the next generation. That can-do, problem-solving approach is sorely lacking in Congress, and I want to help bring it back.
Both major party presidential candidates have, to a degree, divided their party; do you support your party’s presidential candidate? Why or why not?
I support Hillary Clinton for president because I agree with her much more than I do with Donald Trump. She has the experience, acumen and temperament needed for the job while Trump is, frankly, a loose cannon who cannot be trusted with our nuclear arsenal. However, unlike my opponent, I will work in good faith with whomever occupies the White House.
The congressional primaries were delayed this year because the Supreme Court mandated the state redraw its congressional districts. How would you propose congressional districts be drawn so that they are fair?
Gerrymandering is one of the major reasons for hyper-partisanship in Congress. Districts are drawn by whichever party is currently in power, allowing politicians to pick their voters rather than the other way around. I am strongly in favor of a nonpartisan (or at least bipartisan) commission to draw congressional districts in a manner that makes geographic sense and keeps communities intact.
Should Western North Carolina be open to accepting refugees from war-torn nations? Why or why not?
America is a beacon to the world. We should be open to accepting refugees within sensible limits. Stringent vetting is already taking place for those who want to enter from war-torn areas of the globe, and that process should continue. But we cannot turn against each other out of fear; that’s exactly what ISIS [Islamic State] and other terrorist organizations want.
As Western North Carolina becomes a more popular destination for Latinos, how would you address our immigration laws?
We need a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Illegal immigration is at its lowest point in decades. We should improve border security through technology and manpower as necessary, but the U.S. is surrounded by a vast border. It would be unrealistic and un-American to try to turn the greatest free nation on earth into an impenetrable armed fortress, so we should also create a rigorous path to legal status for the undocumented workers who are already here.
Many people in Western North Carolina struggle to find high-paying jobs; what can you do to help create employment opportunities that match the cost of living?
Many people in the 10th Congressional District have sacrificed some of their prosperity for the sake of global prosperity. Now we need to finish the bridge to the 21st century so our local citizens can thrive as well. We should invest in infrastructure, clean energy and affordable, reliable high-speed internet access for everyone in Western North Carolina. Such investments not only will create jobs directly but also will help create the conditions for small business and entrepreneurship to thrive.
What federal-run service needs the most improvement, and how would you address it?
The well-publicized failures at certain levels of the VA [Veterans Affairs] illustrate that much more must be done to improve federally provided services to veterans. I would oppose plans to privatize veterans’ services. This is our nation’s sacred responsibility; we cannot discharge it with a voucher. We need a policy of placing more veterans in leadership positions at the Veterans Health Administration, and we should empower VHA leaders to demand accountability from those on the front lines of care. What’s more, we should strengthen and expand the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
How do you represent a constituency with varied political ideologies?
If you want to know who someone works for, just follow the money. As a newcomer, I am free from the ties to big-dollar donors and lobbyists that have become a chain around my opponent’s neck. The issues that need congressional attention — economic opportunity, fairness in politics, quality education, environmental stewardship, long-term fiscal soundness — are shared by everyone regardless of ideology. Every single person in the district deserves respect and support, and because of my independence, I can bring new energy to bear on the challenges that affect us all.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
I have a lifetime of experience in the real world as an educator, small-business owner, financial planner and community leader. In short, I am a doer rather than a talker, driven by a desire to address the important issues of our day regardless of who gets the credit. Washington is full of talking heads; let’s give the problem solvers a chance.